Grad student travels for U.N. conference
Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010
Updated: Sunday, November 14, 2010 17:11
Christine Dellert, a graduate student and writer for UCF News & Information, has been chosen to represent U.S. youth at a United Nations conference where she and negotiators from 194 different countries will fight for ways to mitigate climate change.
Dellert and 20 other youth delegates from SustainUS, a national youth organization that promotes eco-friendly living, will attend the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of November.
During the convention, youth from 75 countries, including representatives from organizations such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, will come together in an attempt to create solutions for some of the world's most contentious environmental issues.
"Youth interested in helping our environment have been starting to show up in larger numbers over the years, so I think it's important for us to go to these conventions," said Dellert, who most recently traveled to Ecuador, the first country ever to include the environmental protection in their constitution.
The UNFCCC was created in 1992 to solve the problem of rising greenhouse gas emissions and its effects on development.
According to Dellert, the convention was held in Copenhagen last year but with disappointing results.
Negotiators hope to accomplish more at this year's convention in Mexico.
Concerns about the effects of carbon emissions, deforestation, and how to finance environmental projects in different parts of the world will be brought to the table for negotiation during the U.N. convention.
Dellert, who will be the only SustainUS representative from Florida, expressed the importance of youth at the UNFCCC and their role in mitigating climate change.
"Young people have great ideas and better understand the importance of these meetings because it's their future," Dellert said. "For us, it's not naïve optimism; we know we can't keep waiting."
A native of St. Petersburg, Dellert grew up appreciating the biodiversity that Florida has to offer. Both of her parents were environmentally conscious teachers, and she spent many of her childhood days outdoors.
"It's just such an incredible place," Dellert said. "When you live somewhere that's beautiful every day, you start taking it for granted."
According to Dellert, growing up in Florida has motivated her to protect the state's natural resources. She hopes to discuss many of Florida's environmental concerns at the convention, such as rising heat levels and the fragility of coastal ecosystems.
Dellert has also worked to advocate the importance of environmental awareness in regards to the BP oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico this year. After the spill, she started a donation drive for a Florida seabird sanctuary in Pinellas County.
"During these UN talks, ending dependence on oil and finding renewable energy sources is something that our group will be pushing," said Dellert, who has a bachelor's in journalism and is working on a master's in environmental politics. "It's devastating that it took something like the BP spill to bring this issue to the forefront."
Although Dellert is helping to affect environmental change on a global scale, she advocates that doing little things such as carpooling, composting, and purchasing local, organic food make a big difference.
"Some of this stuff is just a fad, but the messages being put out there are very critical," Dellert said. "If we don't change the way we're living, it'll be changed for us."
Louise Yeung, the SustainUS media relations coordinator, has high hopes for what the organization's youth delegates will achieve at the UNFCCC.
"The broad goal is that the convention is successful and it leads to an international agreement or treaty," Yeung said. "On a more basic level, though, we want our delegates to share the lessons they learn about how to support sustainable climate initiatives within their college communities, where they work, everywhere."